Despite this, very few landlords allow pets at their investment properties. When it comes to deciding whether to allow tenants with pets to rent your property, we understand there’s a lot to consider. In the worst-case scenario, a pet will cause extensive damage to the property. However, the best-case (and most likely) scenario is that you’ll end up with a responsible, long-term tenant who takes extra steps to ensure the property is well cared for. There are also plenty of ways to mitigate pet-related damage and prevent the worst-case scenario from becoming a reality.
If you’re a landlord currently weighing up whether to welcome pet-owning tenants at your rental property, here are 6 things to consider:
1. Tenants with pets often stay longer
Tenant turnover and vacancy can quickly turn your lucrative investment property into an unprofitable logistics nightmare. However, if you’ve got a good thing going, you hold onto it. Moving with a pet is hard, and, with so few landlords offering pet-friendly rentals, it’s no wonder tenants who are allowed pets tend to stay significantly longer than their pet-less counterparts.
2. Allowing pets will boost demand for your property - making it easier & faster to rent
With a larger pool of potential tenants, you have a greater chance of securing a high-quality tenant in record time. Considering over half of New Zealand’s adult population rent, if you aren’t allowing pets at your rental property, you’re only reaching a tiny proportion of all possible applicants.
Let’s break it down with a quick calculation:
- New Zealand has a population of approximately 5 million people. It is estimated that 3,800,000 are classed as “adults” (for the sake of this example we will draw this figure from the 2018 Census and class adults as being everyone over 18 years old).
- Half of all NZ adults rent. This leaves us with 1,900,000. Theoretically, 83% of these adults are pet owners (1,577,000).
- If you are only allowing tenants without pets at your rental property, you are only reaching 17% of all renters (323,000 people).
This small pool of potential applicants is spread across the entire country and may not even be looking for a new rental property. Therefore, if you’re not allowing pets, you may find it harder to fill a vacant investment property. However, if you decide to allow pets, or even just “pets negotiable” you open your property up to (literally) a million more, potentially awesome, tenants.
At Propertyscouts, we’ve seen incredible demand increases when a landlord allows us to list their property as “pets negotiable”. Considering responsible pet owners are more likely to be responsible tenants, we see that as a win-win!
3. Tenants with pets are often happy to pay more
Let’s be honest, at the end of the day, as a property investor you’re in the game to make money. While you can’t legally require a bond of more than 4 weeks' rent, tenants with pets will often offer to pay more rent to compensate for any potential harm caused by their pet.
4. You can mitigate pet-related damage with a landlord insurance policy
By allowing pets on your property (and carefully vetting them), you can reduce the incidences of “illegal” pets that may cause damage for which you will likely be accountable for when the tenant leaves. If you allow pets on your property or at least consider them as a possibility, you can mitigate pet-related damage with a landlord insurance policy. A good example is Real Landlord Insurance which offers up to $4000 towards pet damage.
5. Professional carpet cleaning at the end of the tenancy can be enforced with a “special circumstance” clause
Normally, it is unlawful to include a clause in your tenancy agreement that requires carpets to be professionally cleaned at the end of a tenancy. However, if there is a special circumstance (such as the possibility that new tenants may have allergies to animals), you may be able to include such a clause in tenancy agreements where pets are allowed. You will need to make sure the clause is carefully worded to highlight the special circumstance and make sure all parties acknowledge it when signing the agreement.
6. By listing your property as “pets negotiable” you can screen prospective pets before making a final decision
We strongly encourage you to list your property as “pets negotiable”. In doing so, you will still have the final say and do not have to commit 100% to allowing pets prior to screening them.
Here are some questions you may wish to ask prospective tenants about their pet(s):
What does your pet do during the day?
Does your pet get regular exercise, if so what type?
Who looks after the pet when you are away?
Has your dog had any obedience training?
Is your pet registered with the local council? Are they microchipped?
How do you control fleas?
At the end of the day, it’s your property, your choice as to whether you want to allow tenants with pets. If you decide to allow pets, you will still receive applications from those without pets (you just won’t be able to reject applicants solely based on them having a pet). By allowing “pets negotiable” you can receive all applications and decide based on the overall quality of the tenant’s application - if you have a property manager, they will be more than happy to sit down with you to help you make this decision.
DISCLAIMER: The above advice is written by Propertyscouts New Zealand (2020) Limited and is intended as a broad guide for educational purposes only. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. In all instances, you should make your own inquiries and seek independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.